- File your free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. You can complete it online at fafsa.ed.gov or fill out a printed form and mail it. In some cases, you can apply directly through your school. You'll need information from your parents' tax return to complete the application, so ask them to file early.
- After your application has been reviewed, you'll be able to view your Student Aid Report (SAR) online. This will include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a number used by schools to calculate how much you'll be expected to pay for college, as well as the amount of federal student aid you may be eligible for.
- Ask your high school to send your transcripts to the colleges you're applying to.
- Boys who are 18 years or older must be registered for Selective Services to receive financial aid.
- Complete scholarship applications.
- Consider taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams. They offer the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of the nation's colleges and universities.
- Watch your mailbox because many colleges announce acceptance decisions in April. If you can, make one last visit to each of the schools you're accepted to. Once you make your decision, be sure to return your acceptance letter by the deadline (usually at beginning of May) to save your spot.
- If you've been accepted by more than one college, take time to notify the colleges you won't be attending of your decision. It's good form.
- Student financial aid letters usually arrive by the beginning of May. If you need additional funding, it's not too late to apply for a student loan.
- Submit your tuition deposit to the college you've chosen. Be sure to get it on time (typically early May). A late payment could jeopardize your admission.
- If you're not admitted to any of the colleges you've applied to, see your guidance counselor. He or she may have options you may not be aware of.
- If you're “wait-listed” by a college and intend to enroll if accepted, call, visit to write to the admissions director to reaffirm your intention. Take the opportunity to ask how you can improve your standing on the wait list.